From the first lines of the prologue, in the dying light on Lake Nyasa, Alastair Hazell's story is gripping, and beautifully told. He knows his subject, the unhurried asphyxiation of the slave trade, in sufficient detail to challenge our collectively received wisdoms, and he explores the many resulting complexities with a deep humanity. Above all, he evokes the adventures and hardships, the certainties and uncertainties that the British encountered in East Africa. To the story he brings the smells and sharp shadows - the dangerous flavours - of Zanzibar, and mixes them in with the realpolitik of slavery at the time. And threaded through the story, the detailed and determined Dr Kirk is encouraged gradually onto centre stage, quietly influencing the turns of history for Zanzibar, the British and the Slave Trade. I congratulate Alastair Hazell on this subtle and marking book, and commend it to anyone interested in the region, our history or the troubled story of slavery.